We often feel lethargic and fatigued throughout the day. Sometimes, we come to the conclusion that we are not doing a lot of work or exertion to be that tired. In such cases, taking a brief overview of our routines we find that it might be due to the lack of restful sleep and all we need is sleep management.
Talking about sleep, it is a natural phenomenon, triggered by the release of melatonin. Melatonin is also known as sleep hormone and it helps our body to reset the biological clock within our body which, on the other hand, means that sleep is induced. As we all know that our bodies cannot function properly if we do not have enough sleep. Many people complaints about sleep deprivation and insomnia. Lack of sleep can lead to tiredness throughout the day, increase risk of accidents and poor performance at work. In other words, sleep is very important for the normal functioning of brain and body.
Here, we are going to dive into the normal physiology behind sleep, the causes of sleep deprivation, and the proper solution and management of this problem.
What sets us asleep?
Our bodies are amazing. It comes up with its own clock called the biological clock. When there is enough stimulus, the biological clock sets the body towards drowsiness and sleep. Now, you may be wondering that where is this biological clock located and what is the stimulus that sets it on.
Well, the biological clock is situated in the brain and its name is suprachiasmatic nucleus there. The stimulus that makes it work to induce sleep is darkness. But they are not directly in connection with each other. How would they interact? The nature has connected them though nerve connections which connects our eyes with suprachiasmatic nucleus.
The darkness lead to stimulation of suprachiasmatic nucleus which sends signal to pineal gland to secrete melatonin hormone. Yes, this is the same hormone which we referred as sleep hormone earlier. Melatonin is produced in greater and greater amounts as we stay in darkness. As a result, the biological clock sets us asleep for rest.
The cycle of sleep:
The sleep cycle plays an important role in the technical sleep management. The duration of sleep cycle differs in every person depending upon his day to day work and other factors. The sleep cycle comprises on two distinctive phases;
1. Non rapid eye movement phase
2. Rapid eye movement phase
As the name implies, there is no movement of eyes in the lateral phase. Non rapid eye movement is further split into N1, N2 and N3. N1 is a state of drowsiness and a person can be easily awakened at this stage. As one moves from N1 to N2 and N3, the sleep get from mild to deep. However, after getting to N3, there is a slight reversal and the person moves back to N2 then again to N3 before going directly to REM.
REM is the phase of the deepest sleep. It is often characterized by dreams. A person is hardest to wake in this phase. The muscles of the body have paralyzed in this phase which have voluntary control. The sleep is most intense and the activity of brain is maximum. A good sleep is a repetition of these phases. The quality of sleep is measured by graphs showing brain signaling waves and gadgets like the Fitbit watch.
Difficulty in sleeping or insomnia:
Nowadays, night owls are at a trend. People tend to face insomnia and difficulty falling asleep. In simple words, insomnia is the lack of sleep. One might find it difficult to fall asleep or keep awakening throughout the night. As a result, feeling of lethargy dominates and it becomes difficult to perform routinely functions. Brain functioning becomes slow and it is difficult to keep a focus. Along with these body cannot perform well which can lead to hormonal changes, retarded growth and an unhealthy living style. The main causes reported for insomnia include:
- Not going to bed at the same time.
- Lack of physical activity.
- Intake of caffeinated products before going to bed.
- Not following a fix time for going to bed
- Increased lightening in the bed room
- Using cell phones for too long
- Emotional distress
- Jetlag that sets out biological clock of body
Stages of insomnia:
Such type of sleep deprivation does not last for more than a week or so. This condition might settle by itself. Acute insomnia is usually caused by jetlag or other factors which can be easily excluded from lifestyle in order to get rid of insomnia
This is the progressive stage. If you are feeling insomniac for more than a week, you might have this type. It means you need to talk to a doctor and fix your sleep schedule
Sleep Management in Insomnia:
One can manage sleep in various ways. The main goal of the therapy is to get REM stage which would help in proper sleep. Insomnia can be treated by medicines as well as fixing the sleep schedule.
A: The non pharmacological approach:
Sometimes, insomnia can be treated without any medications. Here are a few steps you can follow to get a restful sleep:
- Reduce the sources of light to minimum, in the room. This maximized the dark stimulus needed for the release of sleep hormone: melatonin.
- Don’t use your mobile phone before going for a sleep. In other words, you should cut down your phone usage. You can just replace the use of phone with book reading or any other activity that can help you fall asleep.
- Try adapting a healthy pre sleep routine such as brushing your teeth and hydrating. This can reduce the chances of thirst induce awakening and restlessness.
- Give at least 2 hours break between dinner and sleep.
- Try to avoid overeating at night.
- Make sure your pillows are in a comfortable position.
- Change your bedding 3 times a week to get a hygienic sleep.
- Do not consume caffeinated products before going to bed.
B: The pharmacological approach:
You can consult a doctor if you still cannot sleep properly. He will surely help you with medications that will help you falling sleep. Try to avoid over the counter sleeping pills because they can cause dependence. Ask your doctor about the dose required, the expected side effects and frequency of these medications. If you are on any other regimen, consult your doctor or pharmacist about interactions.
Here are some of the pieces of advice that you should follow while taking sedatives:
- Do not overdose.
- Retain the medicines out of access of children.
- Do not self-medicate without talking to a doctor.
- Don’t drive while under the influence of any sleep inducing medicine.
- Do not operate machinery while under influence.
Tips for sleep management:
- Try maintaining a consistent time for going to sleep and to awake.
- Utilize your day completely by performing office work and exercises. This will help you falling asleep quick.
- Leave your bed if you cannot fall asleep in 20 minute. Do something such as reading a book or meditate.
- Do not allocate your bed for something other than sleep.
- Eat healthy and smallest portion of day at night.
- Take a warm relaxing bath before sleep.
- Avoid bright light in your bedroom at night.
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